Father Callan’s Commentary on Hebrews 4:14-16 for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Posted by Dim Bulb on October 16, 2012
CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST, THE HIGH PRIEST OF THE NEW DISPENSATION
A Summary of Hebrews 4:14-16~In these verses the Apostle introduces his third principal argument to prove the superiority of the New Dispensation to the Old, namely, the High-priesthood of Christ, which he had already mentioned in Heb 2:17 and Heb 3:1, but which will now occupy the rest of the dogmatic part of the Epistle (Heb 4:14—10:8). He has proved so far that Christ, the Mediator of the New Dispensation, is superior to the angels (Heb 1:4—2:18) and to Moses (Heb 3:1—4:13), who were the intermediaries in the giving of the Old Law. Now he will show that the priesthood of Christ is far more excellent than the priesthood of the Old Law (Heb 4:14—10:18).
In the remaining verses of the present Chapter the Apostle says that, since we now have a High Priest who has passed into the very presence of the Father and who has sympathy for us, having experienced all our sorrows save sin, we must approach the throne of grace with all confidence, so as to receive mercy and the grace we need.
Heb 4:14. Having therefore a great high priest that hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
Having therefore, etc., i.e., In view of what has been said above (Heb 2:17, 3:1), it is clear that we have a High Priest, and indeed a great High Priest, who is far superior to the angels and Moses of the Old Law. And in contrast with the High Priest of the Old Dispensation, who was accustomed once a year on the Day of Atonement to pass behind the veil of the Temple into the Holy of Holies, into the presence of the Ark which was a symbol of the divine presence, this High Priest of the New Dispensation, who is Jesus the Son of God, “hath passed through the heavens,” i.e., behind the curtain which separates this world from the unveiled presence of God, and into the very presence of the Father Himself. Let us, therefore, hold fast to the faith we profess. The readers of the Epistle were in danger of losing their faith.
Heb 4:15. For we have not a high priest, who can not have compassion on our infirmities, but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.
And not only has our High Priest entered into the very presence of the Godhead, thereby establishing for us direct communication -with, the Father, but He also retains close relationship with us and feels for us, because He has lived our life, experienced our sorrows and labors, and has allowed Himself to be tried in all things like ourselves, apart from sin.
Unlike ourselves, who suffer from the effects of original sin, our Lord’s temptations were all from without and not at all from within, because there was with Him always perfect harmony between His body and His soul, between His flesh and His spirit. Since our Lord was tempted, He knows how to sympathize with us in our temptations; and since He was sinless, He is able powerfully to plead for us.
Heb 4:16. Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid.
As our High Priest is seated in the presence of the Father, enthroned above the heavens, and yet is able to sympathize with us and knows all our needs, we can go with confidence to His throne of grace, seeking mercy for our infirmities and the help we need at all times.
Throne of grace is likely an allusion to the mercy-seat above the Ark, between the wings of the cherubim (Ex 25:21), where God manifested Himself in a special manner.